Recap: Part guidebook, part behind-the-scenes and part history book, The Wonders of Walt Disney World will make you want to run to Disney immediately. Maybe that’s why I waited to read until now when my family and I finally feel comfortable returning to the parks amid COVID-19. We put a pause on the parks for a year-and-a-half, during which I had no interest in reading and falling deeper in love with the parks. But now I’m back! And this book got me back in the mood to park hop.
Author Aaron Goldberg is chock full of knowledge of the parks – their history of construction and plans and also of each individual ride. When I go to Disney, I often ride the rides for the thrills and the views and don’t pay so much attention to the story of the ride. But Goldberg details each ride’s story, reeling the reader in with information they may have overlooked (which is easy to do, since Disney is such a hotbed of overstimulation!). The book is broken down park-by-park with some history, a virtual walkthrough of the parks and an overview of each ride. He’s even got you covered with spotting hidden Mickeys! Each chapter ends with a bullet point overview of each ride and restaurant in that park, complete with TripAdvisor ratings and advice on whether to Fastpass+ the ride.
Analysis: My husband, the Disney aficionado, read the book before me, and at first I was hesitant to read it like an actual book. If it’s just a guidebook, I figured, don’t you just flip through it for the sections you want or need help with? “No, no, no” my husband told me, and he was right. Goldberg’s detailed descriptions and enthusiasm for the parks made me feel like I was actually there. He got me excited to return to the parks and not only try out some rides, restaurants and experiences we had yet to do (after I read the Magic Kingdom chapter, we visited MK and saw the Country Bear Jamboree for the first time and ate one of the famous cinnamon buns from Gaston’s Tavern!), but also to revisit the things I’ve done a million times and see them in a new way. For instance, we rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover and were able to spot some hidden Mickeys and see sections I’d missed in the past. The book is less of a tell-all and more of a feel-it-all way of experiencing the park.
The book is updated annually and rightfully so. The parks are constantly changing with new rides and restaurants. Most recently, they’ve announced a huge change as the parks move away from Fastpass+ and toward Lightning Lanes with the Genie+ service. For that reason, my book was a little outdated. I read the 2018 edition. So if you’re planning a trip, I recommend reading the latest edition and highlighting so you know what and where you want to go.